Catalogue


In the shadow of slavery : African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 /
Leslie M. Harris.
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2003.
description
xii, 380 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0226317749 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2003.
isbn
0226317749 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
4771636
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 339-362) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Leslie M. Harris is associate professor of history at Emory University.
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Frederick Douglass Prize, USA, 2003 : Nominated
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century "Negro Burial Ground." Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation's largest city. In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers. Written with clarity and grace, In the Shadow of Slavery is an ambitious new work that will prove indispensable to historians of the African American experience, as well as anyone interested in the history of New York City.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2003-10-01:
Harris (Emory Univ.) surveys African American life in New York City (NYC) from the arrival of the first slaves in 1626 to the tragedy of the 1863 Draft Riot, providing a unique perspective on the interaction between NYC's white and African American populations and arguing that historians have overlooked the important role that African Americans played in the formation of the city's working class. By demonstrating how whites used enslaved and free blacks as a means of self-definition, the author makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of urban life and class formation. Most historians familiar with slavery in NYC will find little new information in the first three chapters, but those with an interest in the formation of race- and class-based communities will find sections of the book invaluable. By examining the often problematic interaction of whites and African Americans, Harris's work serves as a companion to Graham R. Hodges's Root & Branch: African Americans in New York & East Jersey (CH, Feb'00) and Shane White's Stories of Freedom in Black New York (CH, May'03). Exploring an overlooked historical process, Harris sheds light on aspects of everyday life that in the future all historians of NYC and slavery must address. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels and libraries. T. D. Beal SUNY College at Oneonta
Appeared in Library Journal on 2003-02-01:
Over the past few years, historians have been unearthing and reconstructing the once hidden lives of African Americans in northern cities. Harris (history, Emory Univ.) extends other recent work by looking closely at class formation within the black communities in larger New York, beginning with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626 and concluding in 1863, and showing how class identity and interest figured prominently in the rapidly changing worlds of work that mattered to blacks and whites in New York. Harris's book does not rewrite the new history of African American life and culture in northern cities during the Colonial through antebellum periods, but it does reveal that black (and white) lives were more varied and complicated than stereotypes would have them. Recommended for academic libraries.-Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"[Among] the first books to bring a rich knowledge of New York history to a precise and detailed analysis. . . . Announces the arrival of a strong interpretation: New York City was full of slaves; slavery was central to the metropolitan economy of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries; and slavery unraveled only by degrees, the pace excruciatingly slow. . . . The most thorough and intricate portrait that we have of an assertive and influential Northern black community. . . . Harris provides a sophisticated account of the tragic counterpoint between the assertive black politics forged by these people and a hardening color line that opposed them. She corrects the common mistake of casting anti-slavery as a white movement by putting black abolitionists at the very center where they are seldom seen but rightfully belong."Christine Stansell, New Republic
"A powerful story of New Yok City's African Americans from the colonial period through the Civil War. The strength of the book lies in its capacity to synthesize a tremendous amount of scholarship on antislavery and black activism while simultaneously offering novel interpretations. . . . Few have done as much as Harris to challenge historians to weave the African American experience into a retelling of the national narrative. The book is a stunning achievementan insightful and wide-ranging work that may long stand as definitive."
"A powerful story of New Yok City's African Americans from the colonial period through the Civil War. The strength of the book lies in its capacity to synthesize a tremendous amount of scholarship on antislavery and black activism while simultaneously offering novel interpretations. . . . Few have done as much as Harris to challenge historians to weave the African American experience into a retelling of the national narrative. The book is a stunning achievementan insightful and wide-ranging work that may long stand as definitive."Patrick Rael, CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship
"For its treatment of antebellum class relations and urban community development, Harris' In the Shadow of Slavery ought to become a staple of undergraduate reading lists for several years to come."
"For its treatment of antebellum class relations and urban community development, Harris' In the Shadow of Slavery ought to become a staple of undergraduate reading lists for several years to come."Scott Miltenberger, Journal of Social History
"Harris [provides] not only a richly textured description of African-American social life but a glimpse at how black presence could ultimately influence white working-class identity, cultural attitudes, and political culture."
"Harris [provides] not only a richly textured description of African-American social life but a glimpse at how black presence could ultimately influence white working-class identity, cultural attitudes, and political culture."Phyllis F. Field, Journal of the Early Republic
"Harris's rigor and sobriety result in the most complex and convincing portrait of free black class and community formation in the existing literature. She argues that, in their obsessive concern with race, many historians have treated the relationship of free black communities to labor as unchanging and uninterestingwhen in fact that relationship constantly changed and interacted with the larger context of New York City's labor market and class consciousness."
"Harris's rigor and sobriety result in the most complex and convincing portrait of free black class and community formation in the existing literature. She argues that, in their obsessive concern with race, many historians have treated the relationship of free black communities to labor as unchanging and uninterestingwhen in fact that relationship constantly changed and interacted with the larger context of New York City's labor market and class consciousness."Bruce Dain, William and Mary Quarterly
"[The book] is intelligent, well organized, clearly written, and fair minded. This is an impressive addition to what has become an important body of work on New York''s African American community in the antebellum era."
"This is an absolutely superior work of social history. . . . Thoroughly researched, perceptively analyzed, cleverly argued, beautifully written."
"This is an absolutely superior work of social history. . . . Thoroughly researched, perceptively analyzed, cleverly argued, beautifully written."Nikki Taylor, Journal of African American History
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, February 2003
Choice, October 2003
Chicago Tribune, February 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Laying bare the history of African American slaves in New York, from the arrival of the first slaves in 1626 to the New York City Draft Riots of 1863, this text draws on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature and organizational records.
Main Description
"The black experience in the antebellum South has been thoroughly documented. But histories set in the North are few. In the Shadow of Slavery, then, is a big and ambitious book, one in which insights about race and class in New York City abound. Leslie Harris has masterfully brought more than two centuries of African American history back to life in this illuminating new work."--David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century "Negro Burial Ground." Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation's largest city. In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers. Written with clarity and grace, In the Shadow of Slavery is an ambitious new work that will prove indispensable to historians of the African American experience, as well as anyone interested in the history of New York City.
Main Description
"The black experience in the antebellum South has been thoroughly documented. But histories set in the North are few. In the Shadow of Slavery , then, is a big and ambitious book, one in which insights about race and class in New York City abound. Leslie Harris has masterfully brought more than two centuries of African American history back to life in this illuminating new work."David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness In 1991 in lower Manhattan, a team of construction workers made an astonishing discovery. Just two blocks from City Hall, under twenty feet of asphalt, concrete, and rubble, lay the remains of an eighteenth-century "Negro Burial Ground." Closed in 1790 and covered over by roads and buildings throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the site turned out to be the largest such find in North America, containing the remains of as many as 20,000 African Americans. The graves revealed to New Yorkers and the nation an aspect of American history long hidden: the vast number of enslaved blacks who labored to create our nation's largest city. In the Shadow of Slavery lays bare this history of African Americans in New York City, starting with the arrival of the first slaves in 1626, moving through the turbulent years before emancipation in 1827, and culminating in one of the most terrifying displays of racism in U.S. history, the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. Drawing on extensive travel accounts, autobiographies, newspapers, literature, and organizational records, Leslie M. Harris extends beyond prior studies of racial discrimination by tracing the undeniable impact of African Americans on class, politics, and community formation and by offering vivid portraits of the lives and aspirations of countless black New Yorkers. Written with clarity and grace, In the Shadow of Slavery is an ambitious new work that will prove indispensable to historians of the African American experience, as well as anyone interested in the history of New York City.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrationsp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Slavery in Colonial New Yorkp. 11
The Struggle against Slavery in Revolutionary and Early National New Yorkp. 48
Creating a Free Black Community in New York City during the Era of Emancipationp. 72
Free but Unequal: The Limits of Emancipationp. 96
Keeping Body and Soul Together: Charity Workers and Black Activism in Post-emancipation New York Cityp. 134
The Long Shadow of Southern Slavery: Radical Abolitionists and Black Political Activism against Slavery and Racismp. 170
"Pressing Forward to Greater Perfection": Radical Abolitionists, Black Labor, and Black Working-Class Activism after 1840p. 217
"Rulers of the Five Points": Blacks, Irish Immigrants, and Amalgamationp. 247
The Failures of the Cityp. 263
Postscriptp. 289
Notesp. 293
Works Consultedp. 339
Indexp. 363
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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